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Alaska's Grizzlies: Kodiak to Katmai Photo Tour

8 days with Natural Habitat Adventures   Rating: Deluxe

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Day 1: Kodiak, Alaska
On arrival in Kodiak, you are transferred to our hotel in town. Depending on your arrival time, you may have some free time this afternoon to explore some of the island's Russian and Native history. Options include the National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center, St. Paul Harbor, Baranov Museum, Alutiiq Museum and the Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Our grizzly photo tour officially begins this evening, when you meet your fellow travelers for an orientation and casual welcome dinner.
Day 2: Kodiak Island
Today we explore Kodiak’s coastal waters and rocky shorelines on a half-day private boat trip. Cruising to Kodiak’s protected inner island, we find rich tidal pools and offshore kittiwake rookeries amid abundant marine life: have your cameras ready to capture shots of sea lions, otters, puffins, bald eagles and occasionally whales. Kodiak Island is remote, not often visited by travelers to Alaska, and our sense of a unique encounter with nature is palpable as we glide through the rockbound coves. We'll also spend a half-day touring historic Kodiak, with a mix of activities that may include—depending on our timing—visits to Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park, a local fish hatchery, aquarium and/or a drive up Pillar Mountain for fantastic views over the shoreline and sea. 
Day 3: Kodiak / Katmai—Board Natural Habitat Ursus
Our day begins with a photography workshop led by one of Kodiak's most admired local photographers. Then, exciting aerial photo opportunities await as we fly by float plane from Kodiak to Katmai to meet our privately chartered ship, the Natural Habitat Ursus. The plane pulls up nearby, and we disembark to board the vessel that will be our floating home for the next several days. The bear viewing begins in earnest as we cruise slowly along the shore. In this area we commonly find giant Alaskan brown bears—the world's biggest coastal grizzlies—foraging for food, and the opportunities to capture impressive close-up photos is simply remarkable! As we are mobile, we can cruise to wherever the bears are, following them from bay to bay. Bring double the memory capacity you think you'll need, as you won't believe the shots you will get.
Days 4–7: Coastal Katmai—Grizzly Viewing
While we’ve all seen footage in nature documentaries of Alaskan brown bears in the wild, nothing prepares us for the drama of an actual encounter with these magnificent beasts, often just feet away! They are North America’s largest land predators, and an adult male can weigh 900 pounds. As we cruise just off the coast, bears often dot the shoreline. We go ashore by skiff for an even closer view, exploring the beaches on foot. It’s not uncommon to find the massive bears in large numbers; on previous trips we've seen as many as 30 to 40 of them at once. And far from dozing lethargically, the bears often put on quite a show in their efforts to fill up on enough protein-rich food to prepare them for a long winter in hibernation. 
With cameras poised, we watch in awe as they fight to capture salmon in their jaws, swiping out at a slippery fish with talons as long as a man’s fingers. Sometimes they dig for clams in the sand or browse on sedge grass. Depending on the time of our visit, we may even see bears mating or cubs gallivanting on the shore. On other trips we watch brown bears from viewing platforms or vehicles. Not here. In coastal Katmai we are on foot, carefully wandering the area under the cautious oversight of our Expedition Leader. In addition, it is not uncommon to see wolves and to observe their interesting interaction with the bears. Suffice it to say this trip offers wildlife photo opportunities that will thrill you beyond expectation! We return to Kodiak by float plane on Day 7. 
Day 8: Kodiak / Depart
Fly home today from Kodiak. We recommend booking an afternoon flight out of Kodiak today, in case inclement weather prevents us from flying back to Kodiak on Day 7 as planned.
Note: Most float plane flights will depart Kodiak for the Ursus in late morning and return to Kodiak mid-afternoon. The exact times will vary according to weather and other logistical factors.
All This Included
Nature puts on few displays as arresting as Alaskan brown bears feeding on summer’s bounty. The bears of this area—the largest coastal grizzlies in the world—gorge on spawning salmon as the fish swim up the rivers that pour onto these wild beaches. Our private chartered ship, the Natural Habitat Ursus, offers an exclusive opportunity to follow and photograph the bears along the shoreline as they fish, dig for clams and lope along the beach. Ashore, as we walk with our experienced guide, we have an even closer vantage point as we watch from a careful distance. Here in Katmai National Park, experience this rarest of encounters with Ursus arctos in all its untamed majesty!
  • Round-trip float plane flights
  • Accommodations
  • All meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on the final day
  • Beer and wine on board the Ursus
  • Safe drinking water
  • Services of NHA Expedition Leader
  • Boat crew and local staff
  • Airport transfers on Day 1 and final day
  • Chest waders for shore excursions
  • Permits and entrance fees
  • All taxes
  • Photograph giant Alaskan brown bears—the world's largest coastal grizzlies—at very close range, in a truly wild and remote setting 
  • Coastal cruising aboard our private small ship allows unparalleled personal access for photographing bears, as well as magnificent natural landscapes
  • View bears foraging on the beach as we walk on shore in the careful company of our Expedition Leader, and get amazing photos from just feet away!
Kodiak: Kodiak Inn
Cruising: Cabin onboard M/V Natural Habitat Ursus
Pre and Post Add-ons
Ultimate Alaska Wildlife Safari
Avoid the crowds on an intimate small-group adventure to Alaska's best wildlife spots, including the brown bears of Katmai, Kenai Fjords and the backcountry wilderness of Denali National Park.
13 Days / Jun - Aug, From $10795
Exploring Alaska's Coastal Wilderness
A small-ship voyage through the narrow channels and fjords of Southeast Alaska's storied Inside Passage—meet wildlife up close in the company of top naturalists.
8 Days / May - Aug, From $5890
  • Dates and pricing for 2018 are tentative and will be allocated to guests on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Group Size Limit: Approximately 8 Travelers. We purposefully limit our group sizes on all trips, and this is especially so for our photography adventures. With just eight travelers, you’re assured plenty of personalized attention when you need it, as well as space for your equipment. As a small group, we can be nimble, flexible and position ourselves to maximize the best photo opportunities, departing early and lingering later in search of the best light and optimal subject matter.
  • Not Included: Travel to and from start and end point of trip, alcoholic beverages on land, some gratuities, items of a personal nature (phone calls, souvenirs, etc.), airline baggage fees, airport and departure taxes, optional travel insurance.
  • Physical Requirements: Moderate. This small-ship-based Alaska adventure cruise requires a moderate level of physical fitness. At times, travelers must walk at least two miles to reach the daily bear-viewing location, in varied conditions including rough, uneven terrain, shallow water, and through mud while wearing chest waders (which can feel a bit awkward and uncomfortable).
  • Arrive in Kodiak/Homer in time for a 7 pm welcome dinner and orientation on Day 1. Exact times of our flights between Kodiak/Homer and the Natural Habitat Ursus vary according to weather and other logistical factors beyond our control. We are scheduled to return to Kodiak/Homer on Day 7. You are free to depart from Kodiak/Homer anytime on Day 8, but we strongly recommended choosing a flight in the afternoon in the unlikely event that poor weather prevents us from returning by float plane as scheduled on the itinerary.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Natural Habitat Adventures terms and conditions, please click here.

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.